Los Angeles. The roads go up and up. Twisting on themselves. The canyon drops off to the left and the bottom is lost to my eyes. Tree tops are below me and the valley floor spreads out into the distance. Buildings. Concrete. Dreams. Sunlight streams and bounces off the windshield glass. I want to look around but I can’t take my eyes off the road for a nano-second. Its a long fall to the canyon floor. Thelma & Louise. I smile to myself. The end of all things… A final acceleration, a blast through a guard rail and the long drive out into the great cold distance… fini. I slow as an oncoming car narrows the gap and crosses the line. He squeezes my lane, cornering a curve. His car growls. Muscular. Expensive. I smile thinly and turn towards him… just a touch. I see his face behind the glass. Pretty boy. Affluent. He looks scared. “Pay attention dude.” I mumble, more to myself than him. We pass each other… inches away.
The crest of the hill is soon behind me and I drive the backbone of Los Angeles. Gated homes spread out to one side. Huge lawns quietly front estates. Lush landscaping and wrought iron fences wrap the properties. Tall walls deter prying eyes and everything speaks of privacy. Armed Response. On the other side of the same road, an unimpeded view of Los Angeles famed cityscape offers itself up. Glamor. Glitz. Gut-wrenching failure. I wonder how many people have sat on the dusty pull outs staring at an uncertain future. Hopeful actors, models, aspiring musicians? Dreams that will probably go unfulfilled. Most people don’t make it in this city. The odds are against it. People find themselves crushed under the weight of debt, frustration and aspirations that are never within reach. Alcohol and drugs eventually wrap them up in armor and the long sad Los Angeles story goes on and on… I pass a neighborhood and am pulled from my thoughts. Looping around I see the street I wanted and drive up a short hill. Houses climb the ivy-draped hillsides. Huge trees line the road.
I spot concrete behind some bushes and vegetation. Skyline. I climb over a fence and peer around. I stay inside the catch basin for a long while. It is like a small reservoir. Early Los Angeles skateboarders would gather here in 1976 onwards and skate the steep walls. Emulating surfing. Laybacks. Carving. Cutbacks. The place looked rough. It was like a gigantic concrete cheese grater to my experienced eyes. I had a board in the car but… I was content to see through my mind’s eye.
This place was special. Tony Alva. Kent Senatore. Jerry Valdez. The elite. The fathers of all that we do… I sat and took it all in. It was difficult to believe that it remained. Most early skate spots are no longer around. Living in Pennsylvania, I would see the pictures in the magazines back in the 1970’s. There would be photographs of Skyline periodically. It looked impossibly steep back then. It still does. I would dream of Los Angeles. I would dream of Skyline. I would ponder living here and fulfilling my dreams… Thank you to William Sharp for the previously unpublished Skyline photographs from 1976. Skate & dream- Ozzie